Eight members of the Dodgers organization, including president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, were in Japan on Sunday to watch Nippon Ham Fighters star Shohei Otani, according to a report from Sponichi (translation courtesy of Kazuto Yamazaki of Beyond the Box Score, on Twitter). The two-way standout threw a 58-pitch bullpen session before the game and then reached base in all four plate appearances during the contest, going 3 for 3 with a walk. Otani, 23, figures to be the most sought-after free agent available if he decides to immigrate to the majors in the offseason. The Dodgers seem likely to pursue him, but the international spending limits in the new collective bargaining agreement will prevent the big-spending franchise from steamrolling the competition with a massive offer. In fact, the Dodgers aren’t allowed to give out a bonus exceeding $300K to an international prospect in the 2017-18 signing period.
- Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is a near certainty to return in 2018, but manager Terry Collins’ exit seems like a mere formality, David Lennon of Newsday suggests. While the Alderson-built Mets have been among the majors’ most obvious letdowns this season, the spate of injuries they’ve dealt with has likely given him some leeway, Lennon notes. One prominent Met who hasn’t played at all this year is third baseman and captain David Wright, whom neck, shoulder and back issues have limited to 75 games since 2015. The $47MM owed to Wright through 2020, including $20MM next season, could serve as a hindrance to Alderson during the upcoming winter as he tries to reshape the roster and make the team into a contender again, Lennon observes. While the Mets could recoup 75 percent of Wright’s money via insurance if he’s unable to play, Alderson has to operate as if the seven-time All-Star will return. The Mets’ third base situation without Wright this year hasn’t been ideal, which Alderson acknowledged. “We don’t have an everyday top-shelf third base option the way some teams do. Not that we have played terribly at third base. But we didn’t go into the season with a solidified situation in part because we’re not sure what David’s condition would be,” Alderson said. “Now, as we go into 2018, do we build on what we learned in 2017 and act accordingly and consider moving David to another position, that sort of thing? That’s all something that has to be evaluated as we get into the offseason.”
- Given that they’ll need to add him to their 40-man roster over the winter, a promotion could come this year for Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford when Triple-A Lehigh Valley’s season ends, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. If the Phillies do call up Crawford, he could see time at second and third base initially, assistant general manager Ned Rice told Gelb. Crawford lined up at third base Sunday, making it the first time he has played a position other than short in the minors. The Phillies still regard Crawford as a long-term shortstop, but incumbent Freddy Galvis is vying for a 162-game season there. Meanwhile, Maikel Franco is in the midst of a disappointing season, so he’s a candidate to cede playing time to Crawford. The 22-year-old topped out as Baseball America’s sixth-best prospect after the 2015 season, but he’s just 92nd on the outlet’s latest list. Crawford has improved his Triple-A output since last season’s unspectacular showing, though, having batted .242/.349/.406 with 13 home runs and 68 unintentional walks against 84 strikeouts in 485 plate appearances.